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A (written) step toward more faculty support

by Lindsay Coppens
In good times and bad times, having faculty support can go a long way in ensuring student press rights.

Towards the beginning of each year, but sometimes when we’re nearing the end of semester one,  I send an email to the faculty and staff to thank them for their support, to reinforce that the publication is, in fact, student-run (despite being a student newspaper, many community members  assume that I make editorial decisions) and to guide their concerns and communication directly toward student editors.

I also use the email as an opportunity to address some frequent questions I’ve had about being interviewed and to reinforce how important teachers are as sources.

Here’s this year’s version:

Dear ARHS Faculty and Staff,

As adviser of The Harbinger, our school’s student-run print and online newspaper,  I wanted to thank you for your support of our student journalists.

The editors and staff work hard to inform, entertain, question and celebrate our community while promoting good conversations. They value their First Amendment rights and know that these rights come with responsibility.

This year’s editorial board is led by Editors-in-Chief Maggie Del Re and Elissa Gorman.  The editors and staff know that to have a strong publication, they are, in many ways, dependent on you. They value your opinions and expertise.

Because you are the experts in the building you’re often important sources for their articles, and they appreciate that you have busy schedules. Thank you for making the time to speak with them.

When reporters contact you for interviews they may do so by email, but they are required to conduct interviews in person. Reporters should take careful notes and are encouraged to record interviews (with your permission) to ensure accuracy.

Hopefully everything will go amazingly well, but if you ever have a concern after an interview or with a published article, please contact the reporter directly or email Maggie and Elissa at arhsharbinger@gmail.com.

If you have article ideas or an event you would like covered, please email the editors or let me know and I’ll be happy to share with them.

Thanks!

In past years I’ve made the mistake of sending an email that went into a lot more detail about student press rights and my role as an adviser. While I proudly championed those rights, I think it was more than most faculty members  needed and many simply won’t read a long email.

So I recommend you keep it relatively short, keep it positive, and use it to shift the focus of questions and concerns to the student leaders.

After this initial email, any further communication with the faculty and staff regarding the newspaper comes directly from the student editors. If any questions or concerns are directed to me, I forward them on to the Editors-in-Chief, and if needed we, or the entire Editorial Board, sit down to brainstorm ideas or solutions.

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